Peter Hartcher: Give us $52m, and we will decide who runs the country

The miners saved $4.6 billion for an outlay of just $22 million, a return on investment of 20,800 per cent. This makes political activism one of the few activities in Australia more profitable than mining.

- from SMH

David Cameron likes The Smiths? Heaven knows they’re miserable now

Alex Wodak: Agony over ecstasy is helping no one

If Chesher had been caught with an ecstasy tablet in Lisbon rather than Sydney, this would have been treated as a private health matter. He would still be employed and paying taxes. His family would have been spared considerable pain. Taxpayers would not have had their funds squandered.

- from SMH

Brilliant essay by Bernard Keane: The internet v the world part 2: why interconnectedness threatens the powerful

But interconnectedness also inherently political. The Reformation churches worked this out, learning a lesson the Catholic hierarchy had worked out long beforehand. People have to be locked within institutional structures where their interaction can be controlled, or they might get ideas of their own. The Reformation was, in part, perhaps the first great example of the impact of interconnectedness, which is why I’m talking about it in the middle of an essay on the internet. Reformed churches initially championed literacy and the vernacular, emphasising the empowerment of congregations to read and discuss the Bible in their own language. But eventually they learnt that if congregations took to interpreting the Bible and discussing their faith among themselves, unmediated by any institutional presence, the whole hierarchy of established churches would come under threat as people turned away from the allegedly beneficent representatives of established churches. No priests, therefore no bishops. And, as James I famously remarked, no bishop, no king.

But the internet offers interconnectedness of a far greater order of magnitude than elite institutions have ever before confronted. Only a government, like China’s, that is willing to throw vast resources at regulating its population’s internet usage can hope to partly prevent the impacts of interconnectedness. Or governments may succeed, temporarily, in individual cases. Napster is now the answer to a ‘90s trivia question. But all its destruction really managed was to demonstrate that decentralised file-sharing was the future for illegal music downloading. Julian Assange may be gaoled and Wikileaks destroyed, but the leaking and distribution of sensitive documents is unlikely to end.

- from Crikey

Jack Marx on immigration policy

The issue of immigration routinely becomes perverted by fanciers of political statistics – whether Australia is taking its “share” of asylum seekers, or at what point Australia’s population becomes “unsustainable”. The heart of the matter has nothing to do with these things. It’s a moral question about whether we have the right to declare a piece of earth our own to the exclusion of all humanity but those we deem “appropriate”. Anyone with a brain capable of a fleeting moment’s existential thought knows that we cannot possibly have that right. Whittled down to the bone, it’s a question of how many – and how much – Australians can’t tolerate wogs. The answer is evidently not a pretty one.

- from Jack Marx’s excellent blog.

Pakistani Art in ‘The Rising Tide,’ a Show in Karachi

The artist Abdullah Syed, for example, assembled a fleet of drones — the pilotless American aircraft that fire missiles at militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas — constructed from the blades of box cutters, the very instruments used by some of the 9/11 attackers. They float on wires just above the viewer’s head, the silvery blades shimmering menacingly in bright light.

A second fleet of drones is constructed from dollar bills folded into the shape of the planes and stapled together in circular patterns that resemble those of an oriental carpet. Called the “Flying Rug,” the paper fleet casts an ominous shadow on a nearby wall.

Mr. Syed, one of several artists in the show pursuing a career abroad, teaches at the University of New South Wales in Australia. “I’m always navigating ideas between the West and here,” he said, perched on a ladder as he hung his killer fleets. The “Flying Rug” takes sides: “I’m saying, ‘To hell with Uncle Sam.’ ”

- from a story by Jane Perlez in

Has Assange Turned Me Into An Anarchist?

We usually accept this just as we accept partisan gridlock and corporate lobbying: This is the way the system works. We take it for granted that very little can be done about it. Right up to the moment, that is, when someone plants himself, like the Tianamen Square tank man, squarely before the government juggernaut, and refuses to step aside. Then we’re treated to an amazing spectacle: This is what it looks like when power squirms.

- from a story by Oliver Broudy in MOTHER JONES.

Dividing the American West based on water supplies

Mark Twain is often credited with saying: “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.”


Bob Ellis: The free market that never was

This is not free market capitalism. It was never free market capitalism, the sort of free market capitalism that punished failure and rewarded success; but it was what masqueraded under that name. It was, in Gore Vidal’s fine phrase, ‘Socialism for the deserving rich and free enterprise for the undeserving poor’. It was a restoration of the idea of Empire, and coolies, and black slaves, and cheap goods manufactured overseas that make some white rich men, and some young Wall Street coke-sniffers, very rich indeed. And it’s failed, as the British Empire failed, because of wage-slaves not wanting to pay that much to their masters in return for their enslavement. Of course it failed. It’s what empires always do.

- from

New York University: Department of Politics

Our colleague Adam Przeworski was awarded the 2010 Johan Skytte Prize, one of the largest and most prestigious in political science. He was recognized for “raising scientific standards regarding the analysis of the relations between democracy, capitalism, and economic development” …having “devoted his research to the interplay between economics and politics and specially the relationship between democracy and capitalism.”

- from

Ann Telnaes Cartoons –

Ann Telnaes Cartoons –

The Reverse Cowgirl: Interview: Peter S. Conrad